The Indiana Court of Appeals reduced a woman’s sentence for theft, forgery and check fraud after finding the trial court erred by imposing a sentence that violated the terms of her plea agreement.
Leslie Grider was charged in three separate causes with a total of two counts of Class C felony forgery, four counts of Class D felony theft, and two counts of Class D felony check fraud. She pleaded guilty as charged, and the plea agreement said that her sentence would “be open to the Court with all counts to run concurrently.”
Under each cause number, the trial court ordered the sentences imposed for the charges be served concurrently, but ordered that her sentences in the three causes run consecutively, for a total of 19 years.
Grider believed the language in the agreement meant that the sentences for each of the counts would run concurrently; the state contended that the trial court could order the sentences in the three causes to run consecutively. The Court of Appeals agreed with Grider, noting the plain language of the agreement says “sentence” not “sentences,” which “clearly contemplates a single sentence for all three cause numbers and all counts,” Judge Edward Najam wrote in Leslie Ann Grider v. State of Indiana, 48A02-1112-CR-1156.
And, even if the language was ambiguous, it would be resolved in favor of Grider. The judges ordered the trial court impose concurrent sentences for all counts and cause numbers, for a total sentence of eight years executed.